The results of a wellbeing project to improve the health of forestry workers at UPM Silvesta have been astonishing. Around 40 forest workers and ten managers managed to decrease the biological age of their cardiovascular system by four years on average.
Auvo Hinkkuri (60), who lives in Mäntyharju, Finland, has been working in the forest industry for some 38 years. His achievements are particularly impressive: the condition of his blood vessels now corresponds to that of a person in their early 40s.
“Basically, it was all about nutrition. I was in pretty good shape before, but by consuming more vegetables, for example, I was able to improve my health further,” he says.
The project was part of UPM’s Step Change in Safety initiative to support wellbeing at work and to decrease the incidence of lifestyle-related illnesses. Smoking, obesity and high cholesterol levels are the main risk factors.
To tackle the problem, efforts concentrated on increasing physical activity and diet changes with the help of personal coaching. It was also noticed that the participants’ ability to recover from physical exertion and stress improved remarkably during the programme. Some lost weight while others cut down on or quit smoking.
“I find that these kinds of initiatives and research are important for improving wellbeing in general. However, results depend on the individuals involved and how they manage to change old habits and stick to their new goals,” Hinkkuri emphasises.